Lentil Soup with Garam Masala and Tomatoes ~ Garam Masala ni Dal

June 2, 2015

As you can see, there have been some big changes to the blog. I’m happy to say that The Hathi Cooks finally has its own domain name! I’m extremely excited. To inaugurate the new design and the personal domain name, I’d like to share one of my absolute favorite dishes: garam masala ni dal. It’s made primarily on my dad’s side of the family with our family’s garam masala recipe which really makes the dal sing.

garam masala bowls

This recipe is so simple, but the flavor is much greater than the sum of its parts. It starts out with a very simple dal base made with toor dal. Toor dal in English is called split pigeon peas and can be easily found at any Indian grocery store and some well stocked supermarkets. It is sold both dry and oily, get the oily version if you don’t make dal all the time as it acts as a preservative. The dal is soaked for a few hours until the color changes from brights orange, to pale yellow, and then cooked in a pressure cooker. No pressure cooker? No problem! Just soak the dal for a bit longer and boil it until the individual lentils are compressible.

Garam Masala ni Dal, tomato base


While the dal is cooking, the delicious tomato and spice blend is made. That way once the dal is fully cooked, the two can be combined and your dal is done. The tomatoes are chopped and cooked until they become a rich, flavorful base. They are spiced with crushed green chilis, ginger, garlic, chili powder, and a hint of turmeric. The smell of these cooking tomatoes is absolutely intoxicating!

Garam masala ni dal, angled



Once the tomatoes and the dal are done, they are mixed together and garam masala is added. That’s it! The dal is done. I personally love to add lime juice to the dal. When I was a kid, my parents teased me because I often used up a whole lime for just one bowl of soup! Nowadays, I’m a little more refined with my lime usage, so you can typically find me with a scant half a lime per bowl! I also recently discovered that the dal is absolutely delicious with lime, avocado, and a fried egg on top. Serve it with rice or quinoa on the side and you have yourself an incredible meal. Enjoy!

garam masala ni dal, top view


Lentil Soup with Garam Masala and Tomatoes ~ Garam Masala ni Dal

From at

Prep: Cook: Yield: serves 4Total:

A rich, flavorful Indian lentil dal accented with tomatoes and homemade garam masala.

You'll Need...

  • For the Dal Base:
  • 200 g (1cup) toor dal
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1 large pinch of salt

  • For the Garam Masala ni Dal:
  • 1 Tbsp neutral flavored oil
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp finely minced jalapenos
  • 1 tsp finely minced ginger
  • 1 tsp finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2-1 tsp garam masala to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Lime juice, freshly squeezed, to taste
  • Cilantro, for garnish


  1. For the Dal Base:
  2. Rinse the dal, and carefully check for small pebbles. Soak the dal and water for 1 hour to overnight. Place in a pressure cooker and cook at full pressure for 15 minutes. If you do not have a pressure cooker, soak the dal overnight and boil until tender.
  3. For the Garam Masala ni Dal:
  4. Heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. When the oil shimmers add the tomatoes, stir to coat and cook covered stirring occasionally. When the tomatoes are mostly broken down into a coarse puree, add the jalapeno, ginger, garlic, salt, turmeric, red chili powder and stir to combine. Cook covered for a few more minutes.When the tomatoes are almost entirely broken down, add the garam masala and turn off the heat.
  5. Depending on the size of your saucepan, transfer the dal from the pressure cooker to the pan, or transfer the tomato mixture to the dal and adjust the consistency by adding water. Squeeze in some lime juice, and taste for salt content. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with additional lime wedges so people can add more lime as desired.

Additional Notes

Very delicious with plenty of lime, cubed avocado, and a fried egg. Excellent with quinoa or rice. Another wonderful garnish is sliced garlic poached in ghee.


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  • Reply Suresh Hathiwala June 3, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Cudos on an an admirable make-over.
    Great inaugural choice choice of recipe. I have some comments:
    * For many years you insisted on sauteing green spices in a Tbs of ghee at low to med temperature. When aromatic, you add tomatoes. Rest of the recipe is the same. Ghee adds yet another layer of flavor to a very simple -yet delicious- dish. It can be kept quite “thin” to be consumed as “broth”.
    * While cilantro is a great universal garnish for most Indian dishes, Garam-Masala-ni-Dal specifically calls for finely chopped garlic chives -if and when available- in rather generous amount.
    * Another option for garnish is thinly sliced garlic cloves sauteed gently at low temp in Ghee.
    * If one wishes to turn it into more of a meal, then medium to large florets of cauliflower may be added when dal is done. Boil/simmer it at medium temp. It is important not to boil the dal really hard otherwise cauliflower will lose its texture and taste.
    Happy Cooking.

  • Reply Alisha Ness June 3, 2015 at 10:03 am

    This looks delicious! And your website is beautiful!

  • Reply Pappi June 5, 2015 at 3:07 am

    Wow GREAT Web site( miss little elephant with chef cap)
    GREAT Picures !!!
    GREAT delicious DSL!!!!
    SOOOOOOO Sooooooooo proud of YOU!!!
    Lots of ❤️❤️❤️❤️and Good luck!!! Hari OM!!!

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  • Reply Mallory June 14, 2015 at 2:57 am

    Ooooh this looks so perfect!! Dal is my favorite!! 🙂

    • Reply Tanvi | The Hathi Cooks June 14, 2015 at 11:14 am

      Hi Mallory! Dal is pretty amazing, and this is one of my favorites. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this post!

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